Autumn is the dying time. The trees shed their leaves, the creeks go dry, the earth goes cold. Animals crawl into holes to hide and sleep. There are few birds and they don’t sing, just shiver and pick at whatever carcass they can find. Dawn comes later and dusk, sooner. The veil between the living and the dead, no more than a veil at any time, is thinnest now, with ragged holes to peek or creep through. This is the time of shutting down, closing up, preparing for the cold to come. It is right and good that we think of death now, display death’s symbols and paint our faces as corpses.
We know, of course, that spring will come, as it always does. The animals and birds will return, the flowers will bloom and the riverbeds will swell with rains and melting snow. The world doesn’t die, only seems to, for a time and then returns to joyous, abundant life. ‘Round and ‘round roll the seasons as Terra Mater turns and turns forever and ever, unto the world’s end, amen. And why shouldn’t we celebrate the time of death? Are we not the same as the earth from whence we came? Do we imagine that our own deaths will somehow be different?
Everything natural is round. Day rolls into night into day as the seasons roll, the planet rolls, the Milky Way rolls, around and around. All of time and all of space are ever-turning circles, cycles, ceaseless rotations. Wheels within wheels.
My daughter, the Spotted Opossum, is four-and-a-half. I am forty-four-and-a-half. She finds it amusing that our ages end the same. And so they always will. She is at the beginning of her life this time; I’m in the middle of mine. She understands that death is only sad for the living, who are deprived of their loved one. The dead go to be with God, perhaps returning in another form or the same form, she doesn’t really know because I don’t really know and I tell her so. I’ve told her that death is nothing to fear and she wants to believe that. In time, she will. She’s had very little experience with life, doesn’t understand even the basic concepts of time or space. There’s no way someone so young can grasp that death is life’s other side.
It wasn’t easy for me to learn it. I once feared death. I once feared life. Fear drove me to dark places, to alcohol, drugs, suicidal ideation, insanity. I’ve courted death, jerked off to death, slipped into unconsciousness certain that I’d not wake up. I have killed and caused to be killed. I have held bloody human flesh. I have lost control of cars, dragged myself out of freezing water, been on the wrong end of swinging blades, tasted gun barrels, overdosed. I’ve seen the dead, heard the dead, walked with the dead. A man I knew died a few days ago, sixty-six-years old. He was in Vietnam, deep in the shit, with confirmed kills still fresh in his mind. We called him “Pastor” because he was one. Another man died a few days ago, Lou Reed, seventy-one. I never met him, of course, but his music blew my mind twenty-five years ago and still does today. The Velvets, I mean, and obviously Metal Machine Music. Both of them were recovering alcoholic/addicts, as am I, and it’s surprising, really, that they managed to hold on as long as they did. Maybe I’m closer to the end than the middle. We’ll see. I’m not planning on dying anytime soon. I’ve got a lot of shit to attend to before I shuffle off this mortal coil, a lot of work to get done. I might not have the final say on that matter, but I’d put up a goddamn fight, that’s for sure. I expect to be around for a bit longer, long enough to get tired and start to look forward to death as one looks forward to sleep at the end of a long, hard day. That’s how my paternal grandmother went. She was ready. She told me.
One my mother’s side, it’s not at all unusual for the old and failing to report being visited in the night by dead relatives who tell them not to be afraid. When somebody mentions that Uncle Arlen or Aunt Bon was in their room the night before, everybody knows they’ll be dead soon. I wouldn’t mind that.
I’ve been talking about physical death. There are other kinds. We’ve all experienced transitions in our lives, experiences that changed us in deep, profound ways which we were unable to comprehend until later, if ever. That’s a type of death. I experienced it when I got sober and again when the nurse put my newborn daughter in my hands. In both cases, the person who I had been ceased to be and a new person came into existence. In both cases, I had to figure out how to let go of the person I had been to be the person I had become. When I got clean, I was pretty close to physical death, in no good shape mentally and utterly ignorant of spiritual matters. When the girl came out, I was ten years straight and ten years into the study of myth and religion. I perceived that I had crossed a threshold of sorts, that I had entered into a new form of existence. That’s what religions mean when they talk about death and resurrection. People who are physically dead do not physically get up and call on their old friends before floating up into the sky. Metaphorical deaths happen all the time, many times to each of us.
Then again, there is the matter of identification. Who am I? Am I the body that houses the spirit for a brief time or am I the spirit that uses the body and casts it off when it is no longer useful? Am I the ego which clings to status, security and fondly held notions or am I an eternal, ever-changing monad which is playing at being temporal? Am I a blip that exists for a moment in an inconceivably vast and ongoing universe or am I an inconceivably vast and ongoing universe which is seeing itself through the eyes of a blip for a moment? I know my answers to those questions and knowing them, I really don’t think about it much. I don’t have to think about it. Thinking about would only distract me from the game that I’m playing, the game of being alive in the realm of middle dimensions. It’s a good game and I’m trying to play my hand well, according to my understanding.
Death isn’t the end of the game, not really. Well, it can be, I guess, if you choose to go to Amitabha’s Pure Land or something. I expect I’ll come back. I’ve got a list of things to do that I don’t think I can get through in one lifetime. Whether I make it to ninety-one, like Grandma, or go out in a fiery explosion tomorrow, I’ll have to come back to finish what I’ve started, which is the total transformation of human consciousness. No shit. The myths and religions of the world are all about living life and transcending death and I’m pretty sure that if people understood that they’d stop being such insufferable assholes all the time. The only way this world is going to become the place I want to live is for it to be radically changed, so I’m going to change it or die trying and come back to try again.
Also, skulls are cool. Halloween is fun. Old horror movies are great. We’ve been watching Hammer horror movies lately. Gary Oldman was really a better Dracula than Christopher Lee, but whatever. The classics are classic.
In case you were wondering, yes, the title is a reference to Sonny Curtis’ “Love Is All Around”, the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Terrible song, great show. Sing it with “death” instead of “love” and it’s just as true.
You’re gonna make it after all.
Occasionally, I make comments in this space that an uninformed reader might misinterpret as mildly misogynist. I have a somewhat twisted and dark sense of humor and I frequently make the mistake of assuming that other people will know where I’m coming from and when I’m joking. I have also had no good luck with romantic/sexual relationships, which fact has certainly colored my perception of women. I do frequently find the females in my life to be somewhat frustrating and inexplicable. I am sure that there are inherent differences between males and females. None of which changes the fact that I am a feminist. I absolutely believe in gender equality. The fact that men and women perceive the world differently does not make one way better. Actually, the best course of action is for each gender to learn as much about how the other gender views the world so that each can increase their own awareness and become more whole and integrated.
Feminism isn’t ultimately about making sure that female laborers get paid the same wage as their male counterparts, though that is an obvious and necessary step. The final goal of feminism, the final goal that I’m working toward at least, is for all human beings to recognize how gender divisions create personal divisions, i.e. how each individual is negatively affected, so that everyone can embrace those qualities and aspects of themselves that are associated with the other gender and become a fully functioning, complete human being.
I am physically male. I have all the primary and secondary physical characteristics that are associated with males: penis, testicles, beard, broader shoulders than hips, &c. I am also artistic, intuitive, introverted and somewhat passive, attributes our society views as female. Another way of saying it would be that I am a yin man. My inner processes are more yin than yang.
Yin and yang, of course are the main pair of opposites in Chinese mythology. The black half, yin, is associated with female/wet/dark/passive/&c. The white half, yang, which is red in Chinese tradition, corresponds with male/dry/light/aggressive. All possible attributes align with either yin or yang, though how exactly they align might depend on circumstances. Neither is better than the other. Men and women are generally more yang and yin, respectively, but there are cases in which a male should act more yin or a female act more yang. Both should be options.
I want to point out here that the yin/yang symbol is one symbol. Many, if not most, people see it as two halves: a yin half, with a spot of yang and a yang half with a spot of yin. According to this (mis)interpretation, males should recognize the spot of yin in them and females should recognize their own spot of yang. Feh, says me. Each person contains equal amounts of yin and yang. Each person is the entire circle. The yin and yang portions are shaped as they are, as opposed to half-circles, to represent the constantly circulating interplay of yin and yang. Now one, now the other, as circumstances require.
My daughter fell off of a chair recently. As she fell, I lunged forward, thrusting my right hand forward to grab the back of her head, preventing it from striking the floor. I don’t mind if she falls occasionally, especially if she’s being kinda reckless. Falling down is educational. She certainly wasn’t going to suffer any bodily injury falling off a chair so I wasn’t concerned about her body, but I wasn’t about to let her skull come into contact with the tile floor. My hand provided sufficient protection. She was a little surprised and chagrined by the fall, but not hurt. I suggested she be a little more careful and that was that. I don’t know whether that particular incident, which just happened to pop into my mind at the point when I started writing about it, is an example of yin or yang, nor do I think it matters. I have achieved a degree of integration that I’m comfortable with.
In the past, I struggled with it a lot. I have never felt like I really fit in with the majority of people around me, but I felt more unlike males than females, so I tended to associate with women. I’m heterosexual, but it wasn’t all about macking on chicks. Actually, it wasn’t even mostly about that. I just felt more comfortable around women than around men, who I viewed as mostly misogynists. At a few points in my life, I rode the swinging pendulum to the other extreme and behaved somewhat misogynistically myself. Norse mythology helped me a lot. The Norse gods and goddesses are pretty extreme in their gender roles, which helped me to identify their various characteristics, sort them out in me and figure out how and why those characteristics worked together. It wasn’t a conscious process. I didn’t pick up a book on Norse mythology in order to figure out which parts of me were more Thor and which parts more Freyja. I read Norse myths because I like to read myths and later I realized how I had been affected. Greek mythology might do the same thing: the Greek pantheon is similar to the Norse, but I’ve never really liked the Greek myths that much. I dunno why.
Anyway, I’m more internally yin. Externally, I’m pretty yang. Probably many people who know me in only a superficial way would be surprised to learn that I view myself as yin. It doesn’t matter. Most everybody knows me as a person who opposes inequality whether its gender-, racial-, or any other form of inequality. I’m fairly blunt about it and I take it further than most of the liberals I know who tend to be kinda mealy-mouthed about it. Fuck sexism. Fuck racism. Fuck homophobia. Fuck the oppression of the poor, which doesn’t have a name – poorism? Capitalism? Oh yeah, that’s what it’s called. Fuck capitalism. Fuck all that shit.
The integration thing is something that we have to work on as individuals of course. Myth helped me with it, but I have the advantage of being male. I am absolutely certain that women can benefit from myth just as well as men, but women have to do more work. Wolfram Von Eschenbach’s Parcival is a magnificent piece of work. The point of that book, the best version of the Parcival story which is the best part of the Grail cycle, is the importance of having a quest, a goal, a thing to strive for. Parcival commits himself to finding the Holy Grail. He searches without respite, even after he has been told by a divine messenger that he will never succeed. He searches because the searching is what gives his life meaning and in the end, he does succeed. That is exactly how we should live: striving to attain the one true thing, whatever it is, that gives life meaning without being distracted by anything. That’s how Gautama went to the Bo tree. That’s how Jesus went to the cross. It’s a wonderful message and I think about Parcival in the wilderness when I’m struggling to find a way to continue to do the things that I do. Women can find that inspiration in Parcival just as well as men can, but they have to first identify with a male lead character. That may not be a huge step – it certainly isn’t one women haven’t gotten used to – but it is one more step than I had to take. There are myths with female leads, of course, but precious few. The lion’s share of myths are aimed at a male audience and have males in the lead.
I’ve been thinking about this stuff recently because of the Spotted Oppossum. She’s really into princesses these days, which is cute and fun, but I’m trying to raise up a strong, confident, assertive grrrl so I’m a bit concerned about the pink-washing she’s getting from the entertainment industry. We started watching the Disney/Pixar movie Brave t’other night. It has some scary parts that were too much for her so we turned it off. I watched the rest alone and was impressed. It’s not perfect, but it does present a strong, assertive female character, a princess, of course, but a tough one, who refuses to submit to tradition when it comes to her right to live her life her own way. It’s a good message. I talked about it with the grrrl the next day and her curiosity is piqued. She wants to watch the rest of it, if I skip the scary parts. She also wants a bow and arrows.
So. Kind of a meandering, unfocused ramble so far. That’s how it goes, huh? BDSR recordings tend to be that way too, don’t they? That’s yin. Allowing something to progress organically, accepting the various twists and turns and double-backs, going wherever it goes, is a yin style. If you’ve been to college, you’ve been exposed to that scholarly writing style where the first paragraph is the statement of intent or whatever and every paragraph after it has a specific reason and it’s all very formulaic and dry and dull and painful to read. That’s yang taken to the extreme. Making things happen is yang; letting things happen is yin. Again, both have their benefits. It seems pretty unlikely that I’m going to edit long, meandering BDSR jams into a smooth, three-minute, verse/chorus/verse/bridge/solo/chorus, normal, yang song anytime ever, because that ain’t my style. My artistic sense is yin and I’m quite capable of getting all yang up in here about it.
Let me just state right here that, most of the time, I have only a vague idea of what I’m doing. Seriously, I’m winging it more often than not, strolling right in where angels fear to tread. It consistently surprises me how well it works out.
As Espresso Shaman, I’m the one who assembles/produces/slaps together all BDSR releases. I do put some little thought into what goes where and how it’ll all end up, but I also jam shit together somewhat higgledy-piggledy and randomly. Sometimes, I realize why something goes together a certain way long after it’s finished.
That happened tonight. I was at work, confined to the dishpit, listening to some BDSR cd’s that I had in the car. I like to listen to BDSR sometimes when I just wanna trance out. One of my motivations as a musician is to create music that I can listen to when I just wanna trance out because I frequently wanna just trance out and the right kind of music makes that happen a lot easier. So I was listening to The Trout Mask Of God Replica/Ārya Soundtrack, thinking that it was a pretty decent release and I was happy with it and then I started free-associating.
There’s a long section on that’n where a voice chants “everything you do is wrong” over and over while another voice slowly says “I am yesterday, today and tomorrow. I have the power to be born a second time. I am the source and creator of all the gods.” over and over. The first voice is Danny Elfman – it’s a sample from Oingo Boingo’s “Same Man I Was Before” – the second is Smokin’ Joe Campbell and I can’t remember the title of the DVD that I stole that from. I got it from the library, that’s all I know. Anyhoo, I was thinking that the section goes on a little long and then I remembered that when I was putting that part together, I decided to repeat the Oingo Boingo sample 666 times because the voices that Elfman says “start shouting at me ‘everything you do is wrong’”, voices in his head, voices which I’ve heard in my own head, are infernal. That’s what the Devil tells you. You’re wrong, you suck, you’re no good, your dreams are for shit. That’s the Prince of Lies telling you that. So it made sense to have it 666 times. Smokin’ Joe Campbell is the voice of transcendence, the voice of Brahmā, the ultimate and unknowable energy that creates, sustains and permeates all that is and more, of which the other gods are representations. As human beings, we live in the Zone of Middle Dimensions, between the opposites, caught in the middle, constantly torn between “good” and “evil”, but Brahmā/Wakan Tanka/God(head) is not caught in the middle. Rather, the ultimate and unknowable energy is all that is and more, which means that it is both good and evil, but because it is beyond pairs of opposites, it is neither good nor evil.
That’s paradoxical nonsense, I know. When you start mucking around with transcendence, paradoxical nonsense is something you get used to. I’m trying to convey something like the free association thing I had going on whilst listening to Trout Mask at work.
The voice over against the Devil telling you “everything you do is wrong” is not a voice telling you “everything you do is right”. That would be another Devil. The Devil is nothing more than your own ego arrogantly trying to convince you that it is all there is. Poppycock, says me. There is a whole hell of a lot more than your ego, but your ego doesn’t want you to know that so it takes on different disguises to tell you lies. Many people think that “everything you do is wrong” is what God says, or rather what the Church says, and they’re right. The Church has toned down the whole absolute authority business in recent years, but it’s still there. That’s bullshit. You wanna go to Heaven? Fine, do what the Church tells you to do. But if you wanna do better than that, like for example if you wanna actually become one with the One, you gotta break past what the Church says. Somebody – maybe Meister Eckhart – said something like “the Church is the final defense against experiencing God”. This is what is meant by the saying “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”. See, if you meet the Buddha, it means you’re not the Buddha. It’s like how if you’re acting on your inalienable right to “pursue happiness”, you’re not happy because if you were happy you wouldn’t be pursuing it. The goal of Buddhism is not to venerate the Buddha, but to become the Buddha. Yeah, I know all about Amitābha and all that Pure Land jazz, but even with that, the final goal is to realize one’s own Buddhahood. You’re it, right now.
In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says “he who drinks from my mouth shall become as I am and I shall be he”. So what does that mean? When the Devil tempts Jesus, he appeals to His hunger: “cause these stones to be made bread”, he says. Jesus responds “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God” and we know that Jesus is God because he also says “I and the Father are one”. So Jesus is saying that whoever hears His teaching and understands – has ears to hear – will become as He is, which is God. See what I mean? Understand the teachings of Christ, who came to Earth to bring about the atonement, i.e. “at-one-ment”, of human beings and God. That’s exactly the point of Buddhism.
My favorite clean joke: A Buddhist monk walks up to a hot dog vendor and says “Make me one with everything.”
To know that one is at one with the One is Enlightenment. To become reconciled with God is to become at one with God, which is to become God. This is what the serpent was offering Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: eat of this fruit and you will become as God is. Adam and Eve committed no sin at all. They were simply trying to become one with God. Trouble was, God wasn’t ready for that. The most poignant and overlooked passage in the New Testament is that bit about the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asks some of His disciples to keep watch while He goes to pray. What He’s praying about. of course, is how much He would like to not be crucified the next day, but “Thy will be done” and that’s pretty major shit right there, but He keeps going back to check on the disciples and keeps finding them asleep. That’s when He says “the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. That’s the moment when God, in the form of Jesus, a simple man from Nazareth, understands the weakness of His creation. There is nothing like that until that moment. Read the Old Testament, I dare ya. What you’ll find there is an omnipotent God demanding the impossible from human beings who can’t ever fucking live up. Read Leviticus, for shit’s sake. Nobody can follow all those rules. When Jesus acknowledges the weakness of the flesh, it’s the first time God understands weakness. That’s when God and man are reconciled. That’s when the “sin” of Adam (and Eve) is wiped clean. At that moment, the barrier between God and man – a barrier God put up – collapses. In the East, of course, there never was a wall around Eden, but it all comes to the same thing: there is nothing between the individual and divinity. The Creator and the creation are of the same substance, infused with the same energy, are the same.
There are still infernal voices, of course, which is why it can be a bit tricky to realize one’s oneness with the One. More people than I care to think of have gotten a taste of this truth and gone mad. That’s part of what the Church and the Pure Land sect do – protect people from too much knowledge. I’m not worried about it because I know that I have no credence. I can go around spouting off ultimate truths all day long and nobody’s gonna pay any attention because I’m just some nutjob in a weird hat. The fact remains: Christ and the serpent were offering the same thing.
This isn’t original, of course. The whole Christ=serpent thing was well-known to the Gnostics, those freaky early Christians who wandered off into the desert and had orgies or whatever and who had the foresight to bury their texts good and deep before the authorities, representatives of what became the Church, came out to slaughter them. I knew all this in my brain. Knowing something in your brain because you read about it in something Smokin’ Joe Campbell wrote is not the same as wandering around to it in your own way, which is why free association is good. Free association helps you find your way, your own way, from A to B and from B to eternity.
This is what I had going on in my head while washing dishes and trancing out to The Trout Mask Of God Replica/Ārya Soundtrack tonight at work. It was a good time. I like washing dishes and trancing out to BDSR and I certainly enjoy wandering around in the Comparative Mythology section of my brain. I hope that BDSR can facilitate this sort of wandering and epiphany – that’s another motivation for me to do what I do. I want to communicate what I’ve learned and experienced.
The Trout Mask Of God Replica/Ārya Soundtrack is available from HysM? They’re in Italy. The whole thing is on youtube. Search for “the big drum in the sky religion trout mask” and you’ll find it.
Happy trances to you, until we meet again.
Senior year of high school, my girlfriend and I would frequently spend Saturdays driving over the mountains to Charlottesville, which is a larger and more culturally diverse city than Harrisonburg. One of our stops was always the Plan 9 record shop. She liked music, of course, but, as one would expect, I was the cratedigger. There wasn’t much information to be had on underground music trends in our corner of the rural South, so judging albums by their covers was standard operating procedure. I picked out a few duds, but mostly my instincts, supplemented by rumors and recommendations from knowledgeable friends paid off.
One fateful day, I was flipping through the “P” section and found Pussy Galore’s Groovy Hate Fuck (Feel Good About Your Body). Honest to Christ, I had never seen so many cuss words on a record cover. The album title had “fuck”, song titles had “pussy”, “cunt”, “bitch”, “fuck”, again, and offensiveness beyond just cussing. “Cunt Tease” and “Die, Bitch” screamed misogyny, but there were two females in the band, which implied that these punks were in possession of a dark and subversive sense of humor that matched my own. Given the context, “You Look Like A Jew” had to be a sarcastic jab against anti-Semitism in the same way that Black Flag’s “White Minority” was a mockery of white power skinheads. I tucked Groovy Hate Fuck under my arm secure in the knowledge that this was a winner.
Back at my girlfriend’s house, I dropped the needle in the groove. It was even better than I could’ve hoped. For those who don’t know, Pussy Galore were the skuzziest, fuzziest, most untalented scumpunks our nation’s capital ever produced. Groovy Hate Fuck (Feel Good About Your Body), which is actually two EP’s re-released as an LP, is an unbelievably raw and filthy collection of malignant hate-spew and arrogant swagger submerged in botched power chord riffage with junkyard percussion. None of the four guitarists could play. The singer comes off as the most self-centered nineteen-year-old goon to ever sniff glue while shoving a high school girl’s face into his crotch. The distortion sounds less like Super Fuzz or Big Muff than the result of having wretchedly cheap and damaged equipment. It all sounds like it was recorded on a boombox. I had never heard anything so simultaneously megalomaniacal and horrible.
Pussy Galore were mostly kids from Northern Virginia, which is actually northwest Virginia, the congested urban sprawl around Washington D.C. The one exception was Bob Bert, the drummer, who had quit Sonic Youth after Evol, because he thought they were becoming too commercial (!). Bert was with PG until they called it quits and hasn’t done a lot of interest since. Other members of PG included Neil Hagerty, who formed Royal Trux with his glamour-trash girlfriend, Jennifer Herrema; Julia Cafritz, who was in Free Kitten with Kim Gordon and various other one-offs; and Jon Spencer, of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. They produced some amazing work after Groovy Hate Fuck: a full-length cover of the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, Right Now!, Dial “M” For Motherfucker and the “Sugarshit Sharp” EP. During their time, they did learn how to play their instruments relatively well. Steve Albini did some production work, which bettered the sound without making it slick. Members kept dropping out. The last album released by PG, Historia De La Musica Rock, was a forgettable batch of blues and early rock covers. But, holy fuck, the early shit turns goat piss into gasoline.
I have played PG’s cover of “Tumblin’ Dice” for a number of people who claim Exile as their favorite Stones record, without telling them what it is. Every one of them stood there slack-jawed and wide-eyed while I exhorted them to identify the song. Not a single one was able to recognize what they were hearing as “Tumblin’ Dice”, so distorted and incompetent is PG’s rendition. Every one of them expressed horror and disbelief when I told them. Friends, that’s how shockingly awesome this filthy din is.
Years and years later, after Royal Trux, Sonic Youth and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion have long since broken up or stopped producing anything remotely interesting, early Pussy Galore has all the gritty, shitty, drunken backseat fucking energy and force that it ever did. There never was any chance that any band so fearlessly dedicated to being dirty, in all senses of the word, could ever have anything like mainstream success, which is fucking tragic, but also kind of okay. Most kids can’t handle and don’t want actual raw power, which is why hair metal’s posturing and pomp sells like hotcakes while bands like PG labor in obscurity. Early PG tracks like “Teenage Pussy Power” and “White People” would be wasted on the majority of kids like punk pearls before pimply swine.
I should point out that kids today don’t get to experience the tension of standing in a record shop trying to suss out a record’s contents by the cover art. The internet makes all music accessible at a click, devoid of its cultural context and place history, with no need to gamble $8.99 on a possible loser. That’s an advance, I suppose. I enjoy being able to quickly and easily find weird and obscure bands without cost or the need to get dressed and if kids today are too apathetic or stupid to check Wiki to find out how Pussy Galore, Flied Egg or Anima Sound fit into the bigger picture, fuck ‘em. It isn’t absolutely necessary to know where, when and how Saddhu Brand fit into the grand tapestry to enjoy the sounds they laid down, but I wanna know what there is to know about bands I dig. It matters. Ash Ra Temple and Hash Jar Tempo might be running, naked and baked, through the same sonic poppy fields, but one of those bands blazed the trail that the other is following and that makes some kinda difference.
We’re living in a conformist culture, these days. Punk is available at the mall. I saw an eight-year-old girl, the daughter of a friend, wearing a Misfits T-shirt t’other day. That kid don’t know nothin’ about no Misfits and if her Mama knew much, she wouldn’t be lettin’ the girl wear that shirt. Walk up to anybody under thirty sporting Black Flag’s bars or the Ramones’ American eagle and ask ‘em to name one song. If they can, they’re probably still posers. Kids think they’re challenging norms by donning get-ups from Hot Topic, which is good for a laugh – there’s this one kid with two-tone hair, lip ring and baggy bondage pants who cracks me up every time I see him – but kinda shitty. Fake rebellion cannot possibly satisfy. I can’t quite justify claiming that pseudo-rebellion leads to school shootings, but kids who blow away their classmates and themselves seem to always listen to mass-produced bullshit like Marilyn Manson or Slipknot. PG had a song titled “Kill Yourself”, but to my knowledge, no one listening to PG ever actually did. If you’re actually deviating from society’s norms, you don’t need to take an AR-15 to school. You got better shit to do, like listening to Valhalla’s 1969 LP, Valhalla, and trying to figure out if it rocks or sucks.
Whether you call it “Babylon” or “Samsara”, the normal, mainstream, popular reality is no place for seekers of the Divine. Enlightenment means leaving the world behind, either by retiring to a hermitage in the wilderness or by changing your mind, altering your mind by any means available. Weird, unpopular music is one of many options.
Now might be a good time to rock out to some BDSR.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.